September 9, 2020
55 Days to Go: What Are the Polls Really Saying?

55 Days to Go: What Are the Polls Really Saying?

By FRC Action Director Matt Carpenter

With just 55 days until Election Day, Americans are starting to focus more on the choices at the top of the ballot. Labor Day came and went, summer is almost over, and now both campaigns are in a final sprint to turn out their bases and persuade the small sliver of undecided voters who should hold the highest office in the land. While voters will weigh each candidate according to their promises, policies, and party platforms, public opinion polling will certainly shape the race in the final months.

So, just what are the polls saying about the state of the race as it stands today? The RealClearPolitics general election national average of polls has former Vice President Joe Biden up 7.1pts -- 49.9 percent -- to President Trump's 42.8 percent. The oft-cited FiveThirtyEight's election forecast has a similar 7-point margin for the former VP, showing Biden at 50.6 percent to President Trump's 43 percent -- giving the president just a 26-percent chance to win reelection. Also, the Cook Political Report has Biden with a starting point of 308 electoral college votes to the president's 187 -- which would be a very steep hill for President Trump to climb in the next 55 days to secure a second term.

Robert Cahaly, of the Trafalgar Group, has a different take on how the race is shaping up in this final sprint. In their recently release poll of Florida voters -- the most coveted swing state in American politics -- shows President Trump ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden 48.7 to 45.6 percent. They've also released recent polls from former "blue-wall" states in the Rust Belt that used to deliver for Democrat presidential nominees on election day, but famously went for then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. In Michigan, the Trafalgar Group's August poll shows President Trump up by one percent, and in Wisconsin, their August poll shows President Trump up by one percent also.

Why do the Trafalgar Group's polls matter, you might wonder? The Trafalgar Group was the only group to accurately predict President Trump would win Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2016, they were also the only polling outfit to predict Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would win in 2018. No other polling group picked up what they picked up. So we can say Cahaly knows a thing or two about what the electorate is thinking and feeling.

The Trafalgar Group's accuracy in predicting election outcomes is likely due to several factors. First, they measure large groups of likely voters. Many of the public polling industry measure "registered" voters, or even just adults (including non-voters), neglecting to take into consideration the survey respondent's propensity to actually go and vote. Second, they don't use live callers to conduct their polls. You've no doubt heard of the "shy Trump voter" phenomenon. Well, if 2016 is any indicator, it's a real phenomenon. By ditching live callers, Trafalgar Group polls are more likely to include likely voters who might otherwise think twice about sharing their voting preferences with a stranger -- for fear of retribution, which in our heated political climate, is understandable. And lastly, the Trafalgar Group polls include third-party candidates. That shows a more accurate representation of what the final results will be on election night as voters are allowed to select third-party candidates.

Cahaly recently spoke with FRC President Tony Perkins on "Washington Watch" about some of the most recent findings Trafalgar Group is picking up on -- notably, that suburban mothers are paying close attention to the havoc in many of our nation's major metropolitan. Trump's message of restoring law and order seems to be resonating with these voters. Cahaly's group recorded suburban moms, a demographic President Trump needs to win in order to secure a second term, as responding positively to the president's message of restoring public safety to our streets. Unfortunately for the Biden campaign, Cahaly's data shows these coveted voters do not trust a Biden administration to bring violence in our streets to an end.

While other public polling outfits seem to be stuck in the same ways that allowed them to miss President Trump's historic victory in 2016, by overloading polling samples with Democrat and Democrat-leaning voters, under sampling white voters without college degrees, and other tricks to weigh a poll so as to create a desired outcome, the Trafalgar Group's record of success stands above the rest.

There are sure to be many more polls released between now and November 3rd, 2020, some are likely to show President Trump ahead and others will show Biden ahead. In the end, the only poll that matters are the final, tabulated, results and the electoral college. If 2016 is any indicator, most of the pundits and public polling professionals are likely to be missing the mark once again. Now is not the time to rest on what the polls are telling us, because they will tell us a mixed message, but instead is a time to engage with our loved ones and neighbors to get biblically-minded voters to the poll. There is too much at stake in this election to let the pundits and pollsters dissuade us from voting our values.